Australia is home to some of the most unique animals in the world. Marsupials, which are mammals that have pouches, evolved here millions of years ago and have been there ever since, with only one exception.
The Tasmanian Tiger
The exception is the Thylacine, better known as the Tasmanian Tiger or Tasmanian Wolf. It evolved to have dog-like features with distinctive dark stripes on the top of its back. Although extinct on the mainland before European settlement, they still survived in Tasmania. It was hunted to extinction with the last known one dying in captivity in 1930.
The Kangaroo comes in a variety of species including the eastern grey kangaroo, western grey kangaroo, red kangaroo and the antilopine kangaroo.
The largest of these is the red kangaroo which generally grows to be about 1.5 in an upright posture. Females are much smaller in comparison. Males can cover up to 9 metres in one leap and bound as high as 1.9 metres. They are found mainly in central and western Australia. Kangaroos can live in arid conditions due to their diet. The males are generally known as jacks or boomers, while females are known as jills or does and baby kangaroos are called joeys. They are represented on Australia’s coat of arms, along with the emu.
The emu is a large, flightless bird endemic to Australia. They have soft brown feathers and can reach up to 1.9 metres in height. They are the second tallest bird in the world behind the Ostrich. Emus can run at up to speeds of 30 mph. Although fast, it’s not like a thoroughbred horse you can make a TJ Smith Stakes bet on since they cannot be domesticated, let alone raced. Subspecies located in Tasmania, Kangaroo Island and King Island went extinct after European settlement began in 1788. Mainland emus however have flourished to the point where their extinction threat level is designated as “least concern”. They used to be common in the eastern parts of Australia but human development and land changes led them to increase their range, which is still over most of the continent. Although they prefer wooded areas, they can and do live in arid regions as well.
The koala is mainly a tree-dwelling marsupial that lives in Eucalyptus Tree rich areas, in the eastern and southern regions of Australia. Their diet mainly consists of eucalyptus leaves which also hydrates them as the leaves are high in water content so they do not drink water often. Koalas sleep for most of the day, often up to 20 hours. They are classed as a vulnerable species which is mainly due to land encroachment by humans and introduced animals as well as bushfires.
Wombats are the closest living relatives to koalas. They are stout, with a thick body and short legs and are surprisingly big, growing up to about 1 metre in length. Wombats live to about 15 years in the wild but can live much longer in captivity. They give birth to a single offspring which leaves the pouch after 6 to 8 months. Interestingly, they have cube-shaped faeces and it is theorised that because they use their faeces to mark territory by stacking it up, having it being cube-shaped means less chance of it rolling away. Wombats can attack if startled and can scratch and bite and even knock people down.
These animals are reason enough to visit such an amazing country that has so much to offer its visitors in the way of unique and special experiences.